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Time to self-reflect on your career

Although hard to believe, we’ve already raced through the first half of 2024. A new financial year is an opportune time to self-reflect on your career. This is about professional and personal growth. Self-reflection is a powerful tool regardless of where you are in your professional life and whether you’re entirely satisfied, somewhat satisfied or not at all satisfied.

Self-reflection at key points is highly beneficial, especially for those working in fast-paced, hectic environments where time is of the essence and there is no opportunity to press ‘pause’. For these and other reasons, self-reflection is often something that slips through the cracks.

It’s important to ‘schedule’ self-reflection time in, however. Even if you’re over the moon with your chosen career and current position, it’s worth considering future growth and potential opportunities.

But what topics are worth exploring? What questions are important to ask?

Here’s a short list of self-reflection questions compiled by our expert recruiters.

How happy am I in my career?

Rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being unsatisfied and 5 being exceptionally satisfied. This will give you the best starting point. Be realistic and authentic. You have nothing to lose.

What do I like and not like about my career?

Listing the pros and cons of your current position and chosen career path can sharpen your focus on what you may or may not want to, or need to, change.

Example questions for pros

Do you love that your career enables you to help people? Are you inspired by working in a collaborative team environment? Do you appreciate being given development opportunities?

Example questions for cons

Are you dissatisfied with the recognition you get for a job well done? Are you out of sync with your company’s culture? Do you work with a micro-manager boss who annoys you?

What have I achieved in the first 6 months of 2024?

Aim for 3 achievements you’ve achieved from January, whether large or small, that contribute to how you feel about work. This will inspire you and pinpoint your passion.

Example questions

Did you manage a new, complex project seamlessly? Did you make a major contribution to your team environment? Did you successfully take on exciting and challenging tasks?

What did I plan to but didn’t achieve in the first half of the year?

This question isn’t about beating yourself up. It’s about examining significant goals that were on your list that didn’t transpire. Examine why they didn’t happen, and what’s next. It could be, for example, that you wanted to, but didn’t, obtain a professional certification. Perhaps you wanted to secure a special assignment in another area of your organisation but didn’t get there.

Example questions

Why didn’t I achieve xx goal? Was this beyond my control or within my control? What am I going to do about getting back on track?

What mistakes have I made in the first 6 months of 2024?

No matter how amazing we are at our jobs, we all make mistakes. List 3 mistakes, large or small, and reflect on how they occurred.

Example questions

Did you cause the mistakes (in full or in part)? Were the mistakes spurred on by circumstances beyond your control? How did you correct them? Are you satisfied you did all you could?

What skills do I need to develop?

Continual learning is essential in today’s work world, which moves at the speed of sound. We all need to continually develop. The key is to pinpoint the skills and talents you want to nurture. Keep your list manageable and aim to do something about each skill before the end of the year.

Example questions

Do I need more hard skills like IT capability, so I can work more efficiently? Do I need to refine my leadership skills to increase my chances of a promotion? Do I need to be more adaptable and flexible with continual change?

How am I going to enhance the needed skills?

Once you’ve identified your needed skills, research the best way forward for attaining them.

Example questions

Can I achieve these skills at work through internally available development or do I need to pursue study outside of work? Are there short courses available or do I need to explore longer-term education? Can I learn online at my own pace, or do I require a more formal learning and development approach?

Have I grown personally as well as professionally in the last 6 months?

Personal growth is as critical as professional growth. The 2 are intertwined. This is because your personal attributes, skills and abilities add value to your career – today, tomorrow and into the future.

Example questions

Have I become more mature and patient when facing challenging circumstances? Am I more empathetic when dealing with people from diverse multicultural backgrounds? Have I kicked bad habits, like always being late or being unorganised?

Final tips

  • Self-reflection doesn’t have to consume heaps of time. A couple of hours will be a sound investment.
  • Be real with your introspection. You’re not impressing anyone; just helping yourself be the best you can be.
  • Think about concrete actions to get to the next stage. This is about paving a path forward.
  • Plan for actions that are small, medium and large so you progress and reap the rewards.

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